Workflows are at the core of every business process and can positively change the way in which a company operates. But to understand why it is important, we must answer the first question: What is workflow?

A workflow consists of a sequence of tasks – occurring from the beginning to the end of a working process – engaging the appropriate people at each step. If you’ve ever managed any projects, you’ve used workflows in some form – even if you don’t recognize the term.

Generally, workflows are determined by automated and pre-determined actions. They’re created to optimize a business process and ensure that the right work gets done at the right time.

And if you’re wondering the differences between them, check out our blog on the 5 types of workflows within Cognito Forms.

Why is it important?

It might take a lot of time upfront to set up your workflow - but that time is worth it. Workflow is not only about completing the work, but doing it in a way that’s the fastest, most efficient, and logical.

If you’re looking to automate repeatable business tasks and minimize room for error, then setting up workflow may be your best bet. And it’ll ensure your business is running at peak efficiency while involving every person involved in each step of the process.

Benefits of setting up workflow:

Workflow icon.

Choosing what workflow really works for you can be a trial-and-error method. But after setting up your own automation, you’ll see benefits like:

  • Increased operational efficiency

  • Alignment within teams

  • Simplifying delegation of tasks

  • Reducing processing time

  • Improved quality of service

  • More insight into your business process

What are the components of a workflow?

When setting up your Cognito Forms workflow, it is helpful to think about it in three parts that work together:

  • Roles - Who will be involved?

  • Actions - What steps will need to be taken?

  • Statuses - What are all possible scenarios within the workflow?

(These three parts work in tandem with Workflow Link Sharing, which enables email-driven workflow links that power efficiencies within your Cognito Forms workflow.)

Roles enable you to customize a form based on who is working with the form and its entry. You can use roles to drive your workflows in a number of ways, including:

  • Sending secure, role-based workflow links via email
  • Conditionally showing fields or sections based on role
  • Allowing actions for specific roles
  • Setting fields as required or read-only

A workflow action is defined by any specific action a user can take to update an entry. Actions, which display as buttons on your form, enable you to achieve a number of things within your workflow. An action can display a confirmation message, send an email notification, change the status of an entry, or clear a field.

Workflow statuses enable you to customize how entries flow from one state to another. From an initial entry submission to the completion of your workflow and everything in-between, you can use statuses to enhance the workflow experience for everyone involved.

Access the Workflow menu by clicking Workflow.

Building your workflow

To begin setting up your own workflow, you’ll need to look at each step of each task, who’s involved, and seek feedback on any pain points that may be slowing down the process.

Be sure to involve the people who will be using the workflow in their day-to-day duties. It may also help to ask who’s involved if there is anything they notice that may be complicated, and ways to make those steps easier.

After taking a deep dive into each of the components of your workflow, you can begin to map out each step in the process and adapt any steps to make your workflow as clear, simple, and efficient as possible.

Ready to get started? Check out our tutorials and create your first workflow with one of our pre-built templates.


Haley N.

Haley N.

Haley N. is a Content Specialist for Cognito Forms. When she's not working, you can find her enjoying the great outdoors with her dog, listening to crime podcasts or buying more plants than she actually needs.